Japanese Carmaker Releases Self-Driving Chair

November 29, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1.  semiautonomous / ˌsɛm i ɔˈtɒn ə məs / (adj.) – not fully independent
Example: Scientists developed a semiautonomous robot.

2. predetermined / ˌpri dɪˈtɜr mɪn d / (adj.) – decided beforehand
Example: Trains follow a predetermined path set by the tracks.

3. prompt / prɒmpt / (v.) – to signal someone or something to start an action
Example: Pressing the button prompted the robot to walk.

4. roll out / ˈroʊlˌaʊt / (phrasal v.) – to release or introduce a new product
Example: The famous brand just rolled out a new line of running shoes.

5. publicity / pʌˈblɪs ɪ ti / (n.) – public attention for a celebrity, product, etc.
Example: The press release generated a lot of good publicity for the gadget.


Read the text below.
Japanese carmaker Nissan has built self-driving chairs to promote its semiautonomous cars.

The chairs, called ProPilot chairs, were unveiled in September. The goal of the product is to make waiting in long queues / kyuz / more comfortable. The company believes that the chairs will be most useful in restaurants where many people need to wait in line for a long time to go in. In fact, restaurants across Japan can tweet Nissan until December for a chance to use the ProPilot chairs.   

To create the chairs, the company used the ProPilot system, which is the same technology used in the company’s semiautonomous cars. The battery-operated chairs can detect and automatically follow the seat ahead of it while maintaining a fixed distance. The chairs follow a predetermined path. Once a customer leaves the chair in front of the queue, the chair will return to the end of the line and the one behind it will take its place.

Aside from the ProPilot Chair, Nissan also unveiled the Intelligent Parking Chairs earlier this year. These are office chairs that use the company’s self-parking technology. The chair is programmed to respond to a clap, which prompts it to move on its own and park itself at a certain location. Nissan revealed, however, that the Intelligent Parking Chair will not be commercially available.

According to Nissan, the ProPilot Chair and the Intelligent Parking Chair were rolled out to boost publicity for their newest line of semiautonomous minivans. These promotional tools are aimed at making drivers comfortable with letting technology take control of the vehicle.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Aside from those mentioned in the article, in what other situations can self-driving chairs be used?
·         What are some disadvantages of self-driving technology?

Discussion B

·         Suggest other ways to reinvent the self-driving chair.
·         Do you think people should continue reinventing things? Why or why not?

November 29, 2016